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Smith won’t testify in murder trial; closing arguments coming Tuesday

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By Sarah Nelson Katzenberger, Forum News Service

LITTLE FALLS, Minn. — Defense attorney Steven Meshbesher told reporters Monday it was his decision to not have Byron Smith testify.

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Smith is on trial in Morrison County for two first-degree murder indictments in the Thanksgiving Day 2012 shooting deaths of Nick Brady and Haile Kifer after the teenagers entered Smith’s rural Little Falls home without permission.

Meshbesher said Smith was willing to take the stand. “He was wanting to do anything,” Meshbesher said. “He was taking my advice.”

Meshbesher wouldn’t comment on whether he was happy with where the case stood as the defense rested its case.

“There’s two dead people in this case and I don’t like that — that’s sad,” Meshbesher said. “Byron Smith has pled not guilty because he is not guilty.”

Meshbesher said he would not comment on whether he would seek a lesser charge, but did indicate he may address that with Judge Douglas Anderson in an “appropriate context.”

Jurors may be given legal instruction Monday prior to closing arguments from the prosecution and defense.

Closing arguments are expected to begin Tuesday morning.

Meshbesher said he felt, after reviewing the case over the weekend, that there was just no need for Smith the take the stand. “All he would do is repeat ...”

In the first week of the trial, jurors heard audio of the shooting itself recorded on a digital device retrieved from Smith’s basement. They also heard the recording of a statement given by Smith to law enforcement about the shooting after his arrest in November 2012.

Meshbesher didn’t answer questions regarding whether Smith has ever addressed the recordings or why they were made.

“He doesn’t have to,” Meshbesher said. “I’m going to address it for him. I’m his attorney.”

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